How long does a DUI stay on your record?

DUIs stay on record in many states for 10 years, or more. Five (5) easy steps on how to find information from your state’s Department of Transportation about DUIs and your record.

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If you’ve just been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI), you are probably feeling very guilty and remorseful right now. And you want to know how the conviction will impact your life. We review here.

DUIs in the United States

You are not alone in the criminal conviction of driving under the influence. In 2009, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. This may be because all 50 states have set Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at .08% as the legal limit for personal drivers and .04% for commercial drivers. If you are under 21, states also have a zero tolerance limit and any alcohol in your system is grounds for a DUI arrest.

Consequences of a DUI

Driving under the influence is a serious crime, and can affect your life in ways that you may not know of yet. These include:

  • employment restriction within certain industries/jobs in the future
  • family embarrassment
  • financial loss
  • higher insurance rates
  • loss of employment
  • personal embarrassment

In fact, a DUI conviction can remain on your driving records for years, if not forever.

Driving records: 5 steps to learning about DUIs

Each state has different laws regarding the length of time a DUI will stay on your record. In order to find out the legal expiration date for your driving record, you will need to track down this information yourself.  How?

Each state within the U.S. has a State Department of Transportation (DOT). It is the DOT’s responsibility to manage the DMV (Department/Division of Motor Vehicles). The DMV processes requests for driving records, and will have information about how long a DUI will stay on your record.

1. Find your state Department of Transportation/DOT

2. Search the DOT website for “DMV” or “department of motor vehicles”.

3. Find the homepage for your state’s DMV.

4. Click on the contact us page.

5. Send an email or call the DMV to ask how long a DUI in the state stays on record.

Many states keep records of DUIs for 10 years. Some even longer. Call your state’s DMV for more information today.

How to prevent another DUI

If you think that you might have trouble with alcohol, first try to cut back on intake to test yourself. Know when you need help, though and read these tips for problem drinkers to gauge problem drinking from episodes of bingeing. But there are also different ways reduce your chances of getting another DUI.

Alternative transportation – If you plan to drink, plan for alternative transportation (taxi, designated driver). Program a taxi’s phone number into your cell phone.

Sleep it off – Crash at a friend’s place instead of risking the drive home.

Subject yourself to embarrassment – Call someone to pick you up.

It’s better to get home in one piece than risk life, limb or another DUI.  And by preventing drinking and driving, you are behaving as a responsible citizen.  Be sure also that you have updated and valid car insurance any time that you are driving.  Insurance queries can help keep insurance to date.  Please add your comments, feedback or questions below. We’ll be happy to respond to all!

Reference sources: Crimes in the US in 2009 listing from the Department of Justice
DUI automotive laws in the U.S.
CDC info on impaired driving
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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